Stephen “Pep” Jepko

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  • December 19, 2023
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Steve Jepko was of a rare breed. He was a dreamer. A visionary who could look at things and figure out how they were going to turn out in the future. But more importantly, he was also a doer. Being able to stamp your dreams onto a blueprint and make them a reality makes a man special and distinct. Steve Jepko sure was.

Back in the middle 50’s Steve Jepko somehow figured out that television and golf were going to be important someday. His vision for television brought cable TV to the Coal Regions; he was one of the pioneers in that industry.

He had the same feeling about golf. At the time golf was a game for the idle rich. You played at a country club or you didn’t play, which right away eliminated 95% of us.

Professional Golf then was played by migrants. Guys who scuffled from tour stop to tour stop, practically running tournaments on their own.

Somehow, among all that, Steve Jepko figured that he wanted to build a golf course where the 95% could play. He had the energy to make the dream come true; and in 1956 he bought two small farms in Elysburg and immediately began working.

By 1959 he opened the first nine. In the meantime, a charismatic youg guy from Latrobe named Arnold Palmer, a working man’s son, began dominating the Pro Golf Tour and the country began to take notice. The popularity of Palmer and President Eisenhower, himself a devoted Golfer, made the game takeoff. Pretty soon the country couldn’t get enough golf. And the final art of the success story, ironically enough, was that seeing tournaments on television was the most important factor in making the game popular.

In 1963 the final nine holes were added. The golf course was his passion until his death in 1973. After he died, the course was taken over by his son, Steve Jr., who has continued to make improvements and changes each year.

Three Ponds is now one of the finest public courses in the state. It is a stern test of golf for even the best players; and is finely conditioned as even the most exclusive private clubs. Steve Jepko’s dream of a golf course for the working man has been realized.

Categories: 1994 Hall of Fame